Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Coming up for Air by Miranda Kenneally


Kenneally, Miranda. Coming Up for Air. Sourcebooks Fire, 2017. 978-1-492-63011-1. 320 p. $10.99. Gr. 10 and up.

From the Publisher: 

Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?


My Review: 




I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 


High school senior Maggie is always poolside or working out to do better in the pool, trying to earn an Olympic cut. With three friends who understand the lifestyle of a competitive athlete (one a swimmer, one a gymnast turned cheerleader, and one a baseball player), Friday night dinners at Jiffy Burger have been the glue that holds them together. Who wouldn't want to hang out with this group? 


On her college visit to one of the best swimming schools in the country, Maggie is quickly distracted by swimming rival Roxy and the fact that Maggie hasn't had time for boys and doesn't know how to be more than just friends. Upon her return home, Maggie makes a plan and enlists the help of her best friend and swimming male counterpart Levi. Levi is an expert in keeping things casual, and he will show Maggie the ropes. She trusts him, they've been best friends since middle school, and they understand each other, so what could go wrong? Neither of them predicted what is in store in this hot and heavy romance.

THOUGHTS: This was my first Kenneally book, but I can see why the high school girls devour them. The friendships and banter between characters are compelling. Plus, readers will want to know what the outcome is. With descriptions of casual sex and drinking, it may be for more mature readers. 

You May Already Be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis

Ellis, Ann Dee. You May Already Be a Winner. Dial Books, 2017. 978-1-101-99385-9. 352 p. $19.99. Gr. 5-8.

From the Publisher: 

For fans of Ali Benjamin's The Thing About Jellyfish and Katherine Applegate's Crenshaw comes the humorous and heart aching story of one girl's struggle to keep hope alive for her and her younger sister in Sunny Pines Trailer Park.


Twelve-year-old Olivia Hales has a foolproof plan for winning a million dollars so that she and her little sister, Berkeley, can leave behind Sunny Pines Trailer Park.

But first she has to:
- Fix the swamp cooler and make dinner and put Berkeley to bed because her mom is too busy to do all that
- Write another letter to her dad even though he hasn't written back yet
- Teach Berk the important stuff, like how to make chalk drawings, because they can't afford day care and Olivia has to stay home from school to watch her
- Petition her oddball neighbors for a circus spectacular, because there needs to be something to look forward to at dumb-bum Sunny Pines
- Become a super-secret spy to impress her new friend Bart
- Enter a minimum of fourteen sweepstakes a day. Who knows? She may already be a winner!

Olivia has thought of everything . . . except herself. Who will take care of her when she needs it? Luckily, somewhere deep down between her small intestine and stomach is a tiny voice reminding her that sometimes people can surprise you--and sometimes your family is right next door.   

My Review: 




I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 


Twelve year old Olivia has the responsibility of someone much older. With her mom working overtime to make ends meet and her dad “away” in Bryce Canyon, Liv tries to keep her little sister Berkeley entertained. Since Berk can’t go to daycare anymore, Liv stays home from school and looks after her, making sure they take time to practice various subjects in their workbooks.

Life in Sunny Pines Trailer Park isn’t always sunny and happy. Olivia’s former best friend has moved on, and Olivia begins to wonder about feelings she might have for a boy. Trying to distract Berk from their misfortune further, Olivia comes up with a circus spectacular, so they have something to plan and look forward to. As her mother’s resolve begins to crack, Liv has to take on even more responsibility. Determined to change their luck, Olivia follows a very strict routine of entering online contests, that is until their computer dies and the librarian asks questions about why the girls aren’t in school.

THOUGHTS: This is a heartbreaking look at family dynamics and being honest with oneself and each other. With Olivia’s wild imagination, there are parts of her story that are fabricated, and those may confuse young readers, but it is a beautiful story of sisterhood, hope, and not giving up on those you love.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin


Pipkin, Bonnie. Aftercare Instructions. Flatiron, 2017. 978-1-125-011484-6. 368 p. $17.99. Gr. 10 and up.

From the Publisher: 


In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen's decision to end an unwanted pregnancy

“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing debut follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.
 
 

My Review: 




I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 


Genesis, named for the band, is hurting. Her life has been full of pain and letdowns. Gen tells her story of being abandoned at an abortion clinic in New York City. As promised, she told no one about the pregnancy, not even her best friend, but Peter ditched her and now she needs help. She's from New Jersey and has to make her way back home on her own. Dark and disturbing, Aftercare Instructions focuses on Genesis's post-abortion fallout, as she tries to understand her failed relationship and figure out when she and Peter grew apart. As Gen spirals out of control to forget Peter and the pain of losing him, she needs to figure out who she is on her own. 

This unique storyline is interspersed with procedural and post-procedural instructions, flashbacks to her relationship with Peter, while revealing Gen's current struggle to forgive or forget Peter. As if this wasn't unique enough, Pipkin incorporates a four act throughout the novel play that gives voice to those in Gen's life. 

THOUGHTS: Aftercare Instructions gives teens an intimate view of one girl’s choices and the repercussions of them. Descriptions of sex, abortion, and teen binge drinking may not be suitable for younger readers.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen


Dessen, Sarah. Once and for All. Viking Books for Young Readers, 2017. 978-0-425-29033-0. 368 p. $19.99. Gr. 9 and up.

From the Publisher: 

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen's thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that's why she's cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm's length. But Ambrose isn't about to be discouraged, now that he's met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.



My Review: 




I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

With her mom as a famed wedding planner, Louna lives amidst many teen girls’ dreams, taking a ringside seat working at lavish weddings. Being part of the planning and execution, however, is not as glamorous as one may think. Though they make their livelihood on love, Louna’s mother Natalie and her mother’s business partner William don’t believe in it. In fact, their post-wedding celebration includes a bet on how long (or not) each marriage will last. Their cynicism is starting to rub off on Louna; she can feel it. With her own first love ending tragically last year, Louna feels like she missed out on her one and only. It takes meeting Ambrose, an impossible and annoying son-of-the-bride (and later brother-of-the-bride) to bring Louna out of her shell. With the support and distractions of her best friend Jilly, who is constantly taxiing her siblings around while her food truck parents work, Louna enjoys one last memorable summer of wedding planning.

THOUGHTS: Fans of Sarah Dessen’s sweet teenaged romance novels will swoon over this newest book. Set amongst a beautiful summer wedding season, it successfully looks at love and loss. Descriptions of sex and teen drinking may not be suitable for younger readers.